Good walking shoes have a few things in common.
They’re comfortable. They provide enough cushioning for your foot’s particular needs. They don’t rub or cause blisters and they’re in your budget. Walking shoes should support you to reach your walking goals, whether your goal is to walk your 10,000 daily steps or to compete in a race walking event.
Let’s take a look at some of the features to compare when shopping for walking shoes.
The toe box
The toe box is the portion of the shoe that surrounds your toes and the front part of your foot. Your toe box should be wide enough that your toes don’t touch the ends of the shoes and the sides of the shoe don’t rub. Too much space and you may find that your foot doesn’t have the stability it needs.
Your foot will slip around. Too little space and you’ll get hot spots and blisters.
The arch support
Depending on the height of your arch, you may need more or less arch support. Take a look at the bottom of the pair of shoes you wear most often.
Where is the shoe worn?
Is it worn on the inside of your foot?
If it’s worn down on the inside, you may need more arch support – on the outside and you may need less.
If you have joint issues or some weight to lose, then consider shoes with more cushioning. This will reduce the impact of each step. You’ll be able to walk longer and faster without experiencing achy joints. Keep in mind that when you walk, your heel strikes the ground first.
Good heel cushioning can make a significant difference.
Shoes can be extremely heavy. The lighter the shoe, the less additional weight you’ll have to move with each step. Of course, the more cushioning you have, the heavier the shoe will be.
And lighter shoes tend to be more expensive.
Shop Around: consider heading to a walking or running shoe store.
A shoe fitting expert can watch you walk on a treadmill and give you an idea of how your foot strikes and what type of shoe may fit best. If that’s not an available option, try on a lot of shoes.
Walk around the store in them and get a sense for how they feel. Look for rubbing and pay attention to how your foot hits the ground when you walk. If you feel your foot rolling to the inside or outside, then there may be some stability issues with the shoe.
Good walking shoes can be expensive but they don’t have to be. Buying last year’s model is one way to save money. Keep in mind that walking shoes wear out. You’ll replace them about every 500-600 miles. If you’re walking five or more miles a day, that’s a new pair of shoes every 100 or so days.
Finding a good pair of shoes can make a big difference in your walking program. Spend some time searching for the pair that’s right for you.
If you’re walking outside, you’re going to wear those shoes down more quickly than if you’re walking indoors. Walking outside has benefits but it brings some safety issues with it as well.
In the next section we take a look at how to walk with proper form.